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Old 11-23-2021, 06:35 PM
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iim7V7IM7 iim7V7IM7 is offline
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Default SANTA CRUZ GUITAR CO. Fingerstyle Model [Italian Spruce | Claro Walnut]

I have decided to commission a custom guitar with the Santa Cruz Guitar Company.

Santa Cruz Guitar Company (SCGC) passed its 45th Anniversary earlier this year as an acoustic guitar manufacturer. They have always been a high-quality “small shop” manufacturer who built steel string flat tops sold through a network of select brick-and-mortar dealers. As I understand it, a few years back, after reflecting upon the nature of their business, SCGC decided to recognize that their focus was really a small shop that was primarily making:

a) Custom spec. guitars for dealers and
b) Custom guitars for clients who commissioned instruments through their dealer network.

Today, their shop makes about 400 guitars/year sold through about 60 dealers globally. As a company, they really fall in between the paradigm of a “manufacturer” and a “solo luthier”. Like a luthier, they can be more select in their tonewoods given their low manufacturing output; and can alter wood choices, voicing, ergonomic and aesthetic preference to better match an instrument to a client’s goals and needs. But like a factory, guitars a made by a small team of specialists who perform different luthier manufacturing operations.

After going back and forth with Carolyn Sills at Santa Cruz Guitars (who consulted with Richard Hoover) along with input from Matthew Chulka (my SCGC Dealer @ Eddie’s Guitars), they were able to to recommend a model, tonewoods and custom features for my playing needs and sonic goals. SCGC is building me a custom version of their Fingerstyle (FS) model. The FS is a larger bodied guitar (15-7/8”) with a narrow waist, moderate depth (4-3/8”) and a Venetian Cutaway. The FS model was originally developed by Jeff Traugott, Michael Hornick and Steve Palazzo who were all working at Santa Cruz about 35-years ago.

Given my primary playing style (jazz chord melody) and tonal goals (a responsive guitar, balanced timbre with strong trebles) for the instrument and looking through their wood locker, they recommended a light, stiff set of Italian Spruce for the top and proposed that they brace it with straight-tapered Adirondack Spruce bracing using hot hide glue. For the back and sides, they also felt that some Claro Walnut that they had acquired was perfect for supporting my tonal target. They also recommended staying with an Ebony for the belly bridge and the fretboard.

This is the M (Master) quality (e.g., an aesthetic designation meaning flawless, straight, regular and fine growth rings) Italian Alpine Spruce set from Rudi Bachmann in the Dolomites of Italy that Santa Cruz recommended for the guitar. It was its stiffness to weight that they liked in this set given my playing goals and the wide lower bout of the FS model.



Here is the Claro Walnut set that I chose from the different sets that they presented to me. The set has some strong curl figure to it. It appears to be mostly on quarter going slightly to rift in the outer regions of the lower bout. Claro Walnut is a stable hardwood. The pin knots on the back set should fall outside the body pattern and the pin knot on the left rim can be remedied with some filling.



Once the basic tonal architecture of the guitar was established, it was up to me to select among the wide variety of options that SCGC offers to ergonomically and visually customize the instrument. Here are the custom specs for my FS:

Guitar Ergonomics: Other than narrowing the standard FS nut width from 1-13/16” to 1-3/4” (I play with a pick and my fingers) and requesting EVO frets, these are all standard specifications for the FS model.

Scale Length - 25-3/8”
Nut Width* - 1-3/4”
Bridge Spacing - 2-5/16”
Upper Bout - 11-1/4”
Lower Bout - 15-7/8”
Body Depth - 3-3/8” to 4-3/8”
Body Length - 20-1/6”
Neck Profile - Round Neck Profile
Cutaway - Venetian Cutaway
Frets* - Jescar EVO 0.043’ x 0.080’
Fretboard Radius: 12” to 18-1/2” Compound Radius
Top Dish: 33’ Radius
Back Dish: 12’ Radius

Wood Choices: The standard FS model is a Western Red Cedar / East Indian Rosewood guitar braced with straight-tapered, Sitka Spruce braces. The custom features here are the top wood, bracing and back and sides. Both top and back/side sets were presented with photos for my approval.

Top* - Italian Alpine Spruce
Top Bracing* - Tapered Adirondack Spruce with Hot Hide Glue
Back & Sides* - Figured Claro Walnut
Neck - Honduran Mahogany
Fretboard - Gaboon Ebony
Bridge - Gaboon Ebony, Belly Bridge
Nut & Saddle: Unbleached Ox Bone

Aesthetic Appointments: This is the area where a customer is free to create a unique look. I decided with the figured Claro Walnut would look great in the context of contrasting decoration. The body, Ebony fretboard and peghead veneer framed purfled African Blackwood bindings. SCGC has a number of sunbursts that they offer. I chose what they call a Buttered Toast sunburst which is a warm, gold fade burst. I also chose blue/green Paua Abalone rosette and top purfling because the blues should visually “pop” against the warm gold hues of the burst. I had a few other shell features in an abalone SCGC peghead logo. As a unique decorative feature I asked for a sole MOP Deco Position Marker at the 12th fret (these are typically used in the FTC model and are in eight different frets).

Peghead Veneer* - Gaboon Ebony
Heelcap, Back Strip, Body, End Graft, Fretboard & Peghead Bindings* - African Blackwood
Body, End Graft, Fretboard & Peghead Purflings* - Maple & Black Fiber Purflings
Rosette & Top Purfling* - Paua Abalone
Inlay* - Mini Logo in Abalone on Peghead, Deco Inlay in MOP @ 12th Fret, & 2 mm MOP Side Position Markers
Pickguard* - Tortoise Teardrop
Finish* - Nitrocellulose Lacquer, Buttered Toast Sunburst Top

Hardware & Case: I chose abalone dots for the Ebony bridge pins and I supplied SCGC with some custom Macassar Ebony buttons for the gold Gotoh 510s because I thought their dark browns and blacks would visually tie in with the African Blackwood binding

Bridge & End Pins* – Gaboon Ebony with Abalone Dots
Tuners* - Gotoh 510, Gold with Bill Wise Macassar Ebony Buttons
Strings - Santa Cruz Parabolic Low-Tension Phosphor Bronze
Case – Ameritage

As I get photos from the shop during the build I will share them here in the forum.
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  #2  
Old 11-23-2021, 07:44 PM
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This is going to be incredible. Thanks for posting!
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Old 11-23-2021, 08:25 PM
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Should be a great guitar. I look forward to the progress reports. Do you have an approximate ETA?
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Old 11-23-2021, 08:50 PM
JCM615 JCM615 is offline
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I probably couldn't afford to, but could I hire you to spec my next build??
What great combination of woods, peripherals and forethought.
The Italian spruce is as straight grained and evenly spaced as could be. And I've never seen medullary figure on Claro like that.
This'll be fun to watch.
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Old 11-23-2021, 09:51 PM
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Oh my. This will be something
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Old 11-23-2021, 09:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justonwo View Post
This is going to be incredible. Thanks for posting!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Haasome View Post
Should be a great guitar. I look forward to the progress reports. Do you have an approximate ETA?
My guess is March / April ‘22

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCM615 View Post
I probably couldn't afford to, but could I hire you to spec my next build??
What great combination of woods, peripherals and forethought.
The Italian spruce is as straight grained and evenly spaced as could be. And I've never seen medullary figure on Claro like that.
This'll be fun to watch.
I hope my vision lives up to your expectation…
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Old 11-24-2021, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by min7b5 View Post
Oh my. This will be something
One can hope Eric…
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Old 11-24-2021, 11:55 AM
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A wonderful build! Well, except for the narrowing of the nut.

I look forward to following along.
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Old 11-24-2021, 11:56 AM
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WHOA! This is going to be awesome seeing this come together, thx for sharing, exciting, great call...
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Old 11-24-2021, 12:26 PM
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Santa Cruz builds great guitars and this one is pushing buttons I didn't know I had
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Old 11-24-2021, 12:30 PM
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Beautiful woods to start off with on another fun ride--thanks for taking us along!
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Old 11-24-2021, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jt1 View Post
A wonderful build! Well, except for the narrowing of the nut.

I look forward to following along.
But then, it might approach being “good enough” . Better that it is not…

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diamondave View Post
WHOA! This is going to be awesome seeing this come together, thx for sharing, exciting, great call...
My pleasure DD…How are those A2s doing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Paul View Post
Santa Cruz builds great guitars and this one is pushing buttons I didn't know I had
My fingers are crossed that it will push mine as well…

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemoman View Post
Beautiful woods to start off with on another fun ride--thanks for taking us along!
The process of going from tree to musical instrument is always fascinating. I enjoy other’s posts as well…
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Old 11-24-2021, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
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But then, it might approach being “good enough” . Better that it is not…
We won't know whether it is Good Enough until I christen it with the Mediocre Ditty!
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Old 11-24-2021, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by jt1 View Post
We won't know whether it is Good Enough until I christen it with the Mediocre Ditty!
Touché…
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Old 11-24-2021, 10:17 PM
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It already looks great!

Steve
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